Books: In Praise of Character

TOLBECKEN (370 pp.)—Samuel Shellabarger—Little, Brown ($3.95).

Many a professor must have a streak of Alexandre Dumas in him, but most of them would no more expose it than be caught jitterbugging. Samuel Shellabarger, who died in 1954 at 65, had no such qualms. Years as a Princeton English professor and as head of a girls' school failed to dim his passion for writing cloak-and-dagger fiction (Captain from Castile, The King's Cavalier), a passion that was further inflamed by 1,000,000-copy sales and nods from the Literary Guild.

For this posthumous novel, Tolbecken, he had to do no grubbing in libraries. Heroes do not dash,...

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